Colin Brown explores living on the edge for the sake of the gospel.
Here are some reflections on my time based at Yorkshire ArtSpace in Sheffield. This was a half-time post supported by Sheffield diocese, which ran from January 2006 to March 2009. The aim of the post was to be a Christian presence and witness for the gospel as a fellow artist amongst the 67 creative people in this purpose-built studio collective.
Here are just three of the headings from my reflections, with principles learned. I share them as they may be helpful to you.
- Risk and support – There were elements of risk on all parties. It felt very 'on the edge' of the safety of the church, where 'ministry' and how to do it had been ingrained and learned through experience and training. Forming a good level of support was vital, for accountability to the wider church, and for a sense of connection and place to reflect with various levels of leadership.
Principle: form strong links with those who have an interest in the ministry, with regular meetings and reports
- Church – It felt difficult to maintain the link with the local parish and with church in general. This was probably due to time constraints, but also reflects a sense of feeling 'dislocated' from inherited church and its models of worship and ministry. I felt stretched in two distinct directions: church and 'the edge'. I felt called to minister on the edge, so had to let go of the other to some extent, whilst maintaining a healthy spirituality and discipleship.
Principle: learn to live with the paradox of being of the church, but (often) not physically in it
- Unknown – Although not attending congregational church, God was very much with me (and everyone) in Yorkshire ArtSpace – the place of mission. Prayer was key, asking for the Spirit's leading every day and for encounters with people there. Conversations happened through openness – a deliberate (although I was led to it) attitude of remaining open to the different people and what God might be doing in their lives. I would silently ask 'what are you doing in this person's life Lord, and how might you want me to join in?'
Principle: Be open to being a 'catalyst' to the Spirit in every encounter